Aline (now deceased) and Her Daughter Jackie

Kigali, Rwanda

13_Aline(died) with Jackie_Diptych.jpg
 

None of my family members survived. My parents and twelve brothers died in the church, a Catholic church; one of my brothers who had survived from the church was killed as he was running away.

My husband and I were hiding in a tea plantation with four of our six children. My husband left us there to come home and see what was happening, but militias captured him on the way and took him to the primary school nearby, where our children studied. The headmaster of the school had a gun and he shot him. Two bullets and he died. After a few days I realized the children were starving. We didn’t have anything to eat. So instead of seeing my children dying from hunger I decided to go to the road, and if militias kill me with them, let them kill us. Instead of me seeing them dying. So we moved towards the road and immediately militias saw me and they were excited. One of them proposed that they gather the Hutu militia peasants and make a mockery of me. And so they gathered several of them, they put me by the road in broad daylight and raped me, one after the other, I remember at least fourteen. My children were there watching. They raped me one after the other, for four days nonstop. It was like he was enjoying to see these laborers, casual laborers raping me.

By the third day I wasn’t a human, I didn’t have feelings. So one of them said, “But you Tutsi women are not even interested in sex, you’re not making us happy, make us happy, you are dry. Your vagina is not wet, what is wrong?” So later, they said, “Let’s find medicine to make your vagina wet.” They got a bottle of beer, broke it, and because April is the rainy season and there was a lot of rain and mud, they got water, mixed it with mud, put it in my vagina, got that bottle which they had, cut it into pieces and then started hitting me with it. And so they said now the vagina was wet and they started raping me again. On the fourth day these guys thought I was dead, and indeed I thought I was.

While I was slowly walking with my children going through the bush, we witnessed many killings. So I took courage and decided that I was going to go to the city. In the city I will definitely find someone to kill me. When you want death it really doesn’t come, no one cared to kill us. We saw many people coming from Kigali towards the border with Congo, and so at that point when we were walking towards Congo I lost my children. I never saw my children again. They got mixed up in the crowd and I didn’t see them anymore.

One man really tortured me. When militias came to kill me he said, “Don’t kill this one, she will just break and die, I’ll make sure she dies from agony.” He brought a cup, urinated in it, gave it to me and said “drink.” I drank the urine. That same man had been putting his penis in my vagina. The next day he says, oh you want food? He brings food, but mixes the food with stones, water, and urine. So he kept doing that. He did that for many, many, many, many days. When we were finally moving towards the roadway, he said: “You are my toilet, you are my urinal. When I want to urinate I must urinate in you.” So he made sure he had me, not to protect me but just to torture me. Whenever he wanted to urinate he told me open your legs wide. Then I open and he urinates in my vagina, and then he leaves. He put me in a truck carrying people to Congo, because he said he must see me die slowly.

Six days after I thought I was going to die there, but my other self was telling me to try and escape, I thought if I sneak out slowly nobody will notice. So I started moving at one point. Eventually I got to the Rwandan border. I was like a mad person. I was very traumatized because I didn’t know where my children were. I had seen my husband die; at least I knew he had been killed. I had traveled with my children on the main road and they disappeared; but I had stayed with them through all these hard times. So that was my biggest point of confusion.

I lost my children, but I am carrying another child. I asked myself should I abort and remove this child? Should I kill it, how? How would I have a child whose father I don’t know, feeding it on my breast? So every evening I went and stood by the lake so I could jump and fall in it, to commit suicide. I don’t know what stopped me, but every evening I went and said, suppose I jump and fall in there and I die? Something held me back,  I don’t know what.

After giving birth I slept, I don’t know for how long, When I woke up I called the social worker and said, “Come, come. Can I talk to you? Yes. Can I ask you something? Yes. Have I given birth? Yes. Is the kid alive? Yes. What is it, is it a boy or a girl? A girl.” I felt so annoyed because my wish was that it could die at least during the birth process. It didn’t die. Then I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t want that child. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want it near me. I don’t want to touch it.” Slowly, I got to take on the child, but I never loved it. Because, why? I was asking myself, the children of my love, I don’t see them, I don’t have them. None of my family members survived. Here I am. I’m suffering with one bastard whose father I don’t even know. Let alone not knowing the father, but whose family killed my family. So why should I love her? Honestly, even now I don’t like her, even now. Everyday I thought of throwing this kid in the latrine.

In October 1997 someone told me there is a kid somewhere in the village that looks like mine. I got up and went there. Fortunately I found it was him, my son. He looked like a monkey. If you looked at him you wouldn’t believe it. He had lice, he had insects on his body. When I came back with my son I said, “now this girl can die, anything can happen. At least I have my son.”

In 2001 I found out I was HIV positive. I moved from the house where I was living, I went to stay in the bush. I would stay in the bush during the day, I was a real lunatic.

It was a surprise knowing that some of my kids are alive in an orphanage. It was a surprise because I thought they were dead. When I saw them it made me happy. I was happy again. But then I became sad because I found them when I had no house, no job, no income, no food, no life. I’m just a lunatic moving from here to there. So I regretted why they saw me in that state. Even when I insisted that the orphanage give me back my children, the caretaker saw my condition, examined me with disgust. She said you can’t take these children. Let them stay here. They were not excited to see me, they didn’t seem to recognize me. I don’t know why, but maybe because they think I abandoned them, they don’t understand me. It’s all an effect of genocide. We are not friends. Honestly, I make an effort. But we live like that; yes, they know I’m their mother and I love them as my children, but we are not very close.

I have never sat with my daughter face-to-face and talked. Recently I went to visit her, I wanted to speak to her. We spent two nights together in the same bed. I failed to talk to her, and I know I’m going to die soon.

Look at me I’m 46 years old. Before genocide I had 13 brothers – I was the only girl, I was a queen. I was given all the good treatment you could think of. My husband was the only boy in his family that raised 12 sisters. It’s all distorted. Who distorted it? The militias. I’m living the consequences of their brutality, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. Honestly, other than telling you to tell the world that Hutus are dogs, what else can I tell you? Personally, I don’t have life. So what message should I give when I have no life? I don’t know. Let there never be war anywhere again, because the consequences that I’m living with, I don’t want anyone to live them. There are people who are not seeing the effects we live with. I’m living them day-by-day.

-Aline (now deceased), mother of Jackie, 2006

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